Alumni

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Jolande Sap

Jolande Sap studied Economics and specialized in Political Economics and Philosophy. In 1989 she graduated. Until October 2012, she was the chairperson of ‘Groen Links’, [a left wing political party] in the House of Representatives. “I learned to pose disrupting questions about the apparent reality that economists use to understand and explain everything.”

Why did you decide to study in Tilburg?
“A teacher in high school made me enthusiastic about the subject economics. I love mathematics and numbers, but it has to be socially relevant. That takes you directly to economics. On the one hand, the choice for Tilburg was practical, since it was close by to my hometown Venlo. On the other hand, Tilburg University was known for its philosophical and broad social view. That really appealed to me. I also heard from people in Venlo that Tilburg was a nice city for students.”

Who was your favourite professor and why?
“I had many favourite professors but assistant professor Boerboom (political economics) and professor Plattel (philosophy) really stood out. Wim Boerboom was a political, Marxist economist with a great passion and social commitment. He showed a lot of respect for students and taught you to discuss, not to learn everything by hard. I worked for him with much pleasure as a student assistant. Professor Plattel taught you to reflect on the values of life. I learned to pose disrupting questions about the apparent reality that economists use to understand and explain everything.”

"Tilburg University was known for its philosophical and broad social view. That really appealed to me"


Do you have an interesting anecdote from your student days?
“Something that has stayed with me has to do with my focus on emancipation. In the 1980s, one in ten economics students was a woman. During one of my math classes, my neighbor did not understand the professor, so over my head he asked my other neighbor for an explanation. It simply didn’t occur to him that I could explain it to him… that women are also capable of anything is something not everyone sees.”

What is your career like?
"After my study, I conducted research on the salary gap between men and women at the Tinbergen Institute of Research. After a few years, I switched from academic research to policy work and then to consulting in the public and private sector. Successively at the Emancipation Council, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, and at the expertise center ‘LEEFtijd’, which I transferred from a subsidized foundation to an independent consultancy. Since 2008, I have been a member of the House of Representatives for ‘Groen Links’. The common thread in my career is to improve the opportunities for groups of people (women, the elderly and the less educated) in society, from an emancipation perspective and on the basis of strong economic arguments.”

"Your student time is a time for reflection, to learn, and think"


What role did the University play in your life and how did it influence your career?
“My study has been very important for my development and formation. I was an inquisitive student and was able to follow a broad study programme with subjects like political economics and development economics. I once thought that I would like to become a professor and a member of the Social Economic Council [SER: Sociaal Economische Raad]. I’m interested in research and science serving society and in politics I frequently use scientific research to convince people on the basis of facts.”

Does Tilburg University still play a role in your life now?

"In the past I worked together with Netspar (the Tilburg University research institute in the area of pensions) and a few years ago I participated in the senior leadership program Continue at TiasNimbas, the business school at Tilburg University. It was nice to be back on campus and to be taught by the professors at the university. Of course, I made friends for life during my student time in Tilburg, but I am not a member of an alumni association. I’m not the type of person to join associations.”